CNN Finds That Pot Smokers Are Actually Pretty Good Drivers

February 20, 2013

Back in November, voters in Colorado and Washington legalized the recreational use of marijuana. And despite federal laws prohibiting pot possession, President Obama has said that arresting users in those two states isn't a top priority.

Which is fine, but now, law enforcement officials have to set specific limits on what counts as driving under the influence for marijuana smokers.

Though several states have legalized medical marijuana, none had established an acceptable THC blood content level for drivers. Basically, any motorist found driving with THC in her system was guilty of driving under the influence -- even if that THC came from legally sanctioned medicinal marijuana.

With the passage of Initiative 502, however, Washington state set an official threshold of 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. Though the bill's authors insist that level is based on significant scientific evidence [PDF], some claim that it's completely arbitrary.

How does 5 nanograms of THC affect drivers? CNN wanted to find out, so the network found an open test course in Washington state and three drivers willing to devote their lungs to an afternoon of "scientific" research.

You can judge CNN's findings for yourself by watching the clip above. Some outlets like the New York Post think it represents a huge fail for stoners; others like LA Weekly, see the pot-smokers performing pretty well.

Our take? We admit that the test subjects make a few flubs on the course. However, we also note that CNN has to get them well above the legal THC threshold to see any effect on their driving -- and by the time they reach that point, all three recognize that they shouldn't be behind the wheel. Would drinkers who'd surpassed three (or more) times the legal blood alcohol limit have performed so well?  

[h/t Brian Henderson]


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